So many slow cooker recipes indicate a “dump and cook” method, but then taste like that’s exactly what you did. (I’m not eating any food from a recipe that includes the word “dump”!) We all wish this simple cooking method worked in just such a way–especially during the hot summer months. In truth, many meals need a bit of pre-sautéing or browning before that long simmer or they are, to my palate, steamed to death and all the same color–the very reason some good cooks tell me they tried a slow cooker once and gave it away soon thereafter.
Sausage+Beer Soup w/ Brussels Sprouts+White Beans – Scroll down for recipe
After nearly a month away from the blog and home
…first to see our daughter Emily in Pennsylvania..
…and then to cruise via some stormy, leftover hurricane seas with my sister Helen from our favorite foreign spot, Quebec City, to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida… …
In January it’s so nice
While slippin’ on the slidin’ ice
To sip hot chicken soup with rice
Sippin’ once, sippin’ twice
Sippin’ chicken soup with rice..
Lyrics (original text) by Maurice Sendak. Music by Carole King, Really Rosie. (Click here to listen.) First published in the book Chicken Soup with Rice, part of the Nutshell Library. Continue reading
Note: an Instant Pot version of this soup was posted in April of 2018. The printable recipe on this post includes instructions for both the stove top and Instant Pot versions.
It is a joy and at times a true puzzle to figure out how to use up leftovers, but a good cook lets nothing go to waste. Or, as Winston Churchill said,
Never let a good crisis go to waste.
And it is at times a “crisis’ in the fridge: 2 boiled eggs, two pieces of bacon, a quart of milk nearly gone bad, a bowl of boiled potatoes, and one piece of sad stale baguette are in your direct view every time you open the door. Why isn’t there a lovely fillet of salmon, a great bottle of Chardonnay, and deeply-green spinach just out of the neighbor’s garden? Instead of a fresh fish meal, you make a quick potato soup topped with toasted breadcrumbs and then chop together a little egg salad for crackers as a side. And often you’re happier than if you’d cooked from scratch. (Aside: In Seattle, you’re fined $25 if food is found in your garbage. You must use and eat or compost.)
below: dogs all dressed up for Easter
Tuesday morning’s “crisis” (OH DEAR) was a bit of cold Asparagus Vinaigrette with Chopped Eggs I had taken to friends for an Easter Eve supper. Holiday leftover crises are somewhat worse than the traditional what’s-in-that-tupperware? problem. Well, I just heated a small plateful in a skillet and cooked two eggs on top for my breakfast:
This black eyed pea soup appeared one noon when I just wanted something real to eat…something warm and filling, but not fattening. Contrary to common opinions or the instructions on the package, black eyed peas do not have to soak, nor do they take two hours to cook. Took about an hour cooking time plus prep. Perfect for a lucky New Year’s Day when you’re too tired to cook much. Or hungover and in need of healthy, filling food. Want corn bread? I include my favorite recipe at the bottom of the post. Don’t forget to dunk.
The famous Italian dish, Tortellini en brodo, is a beautiful, well-known holiday pasta and broth soup upon which my simplified, shredded-beef American version is based. I truly didn’t have this dish in mind, I just happened to have a pot roast, a bunch of tortellini, and a desire for something besides the things I usually make with pot roast on a cold snowy day: pot roast and vegetables, beef-vegetable soup, beef-barley soup, beef burgundy, and so on.
If you’d like to make the real Tortellini en brodo, visit a blog that has the directions in English; many are in Italian! Here’s a good home-made blogger’s version (Stefan’s Gourmet Blog) that is totally from scratch, including the meat filling for the tortellini, and looks luscious. If you’d rather have a little video action and a Mario Batali recipe, here’s that link. The simplest shortcut recipe is here. In other words, you’re not cooking meat for broth, bones for stock, or making homemade pasta and filling in my soup, but you are cooking a pot roast! And while my ingredients’ list isn’t short, the method is simple and gives you time for other things.
Because while writing the recipe, I realized it sounds long and ponderous, you can read — and cook from, if you like — the basic method, or the short version:
Brown a well-seasoned pot roast with carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and fennel and cook until tender — 2 – 2 1/2 hours — in wine, tomatoes, and broth (a little more than 3 quarts liquid) with bay leaf, dried oregano, and basil. Shred the beef, chop or puree the cooked vegetables, and cook the pasta and peas in the broth while you do that. Stir it all together, add a small handful of fresh basil and garnish in bowls with parsley and Parmesan cheese.
While the beef cooks, a couple of hours, you have time to work on a project, read a good book, watch a movie, or have coffee with a friend. If you’d like to cook this in the slow cooker, I think you would have some success, though I haven’t tried it. A link for similar recipe made in a slow cooker (tortellini is added the last twenty minutes) is here. Buon appetite! Continue reading
Welcome to the new More Time at the Table on WordPress.com! This blog has been hosted by Blogger for the past four-plus years and will be published at both urls until all the kinks are worked out of the transition process. Do change your bookmarks or links, please, and follow me here on Word Press! Great thanks to my gorgeous daughter Emily (below in red sweater) who managed the migration. So cool to have smart kids!
A fast, hearty, healthy, rich, and inexpensive main course is what this soup is all about. A little pancetta to set the stage for the quickly sautéed vegetables bolstered by a heart-happy hit of garlic. A big blustery can of Italian tomatoes added to chicken stock to create instant broth. Pasta and beans to fill your tummy. A few fresh leaves of spinach and a splash each of white wine and pesto to top it all off and make it so.
Winter Minestrone & Garlic Bruschetta (click link for recipe) comes out of Ina Garten’s most recent and seventh book, BAREFOOT CONTESSA : Foolproof — Recipes You Can Trust, published in 2012 by Clarkson Potter. Quentin Bacon did the stellar photographs. That’s right; this is a coffee table book even if you plan to cook from it. You can dream with this gorgeous tome while you sip a cup of tea early in the morning. Put it on the bedside table and then discuss menus with your partner over a glass of white wine at 11 p.m. Or drag it along to the JW Marriott in Denver’s Cherry Creek (my local escape) like I did. One of my favorite things about this book is the way the paper feels and the quintessential new-book aroma wafting upwards each time it’s opened. I am a book, a real book, fanatic. (I did make my living as a librarian, as well as a choral director. I even taught English a few years.) It’s not that I don’t read on the iPad — or even on Dave’s Kindle — I do. But I’m enamored of the senses provoked by books I can see, smell, hold, feel, touch, and even shelve. There. Continue reading
Since I’m writing a soup cookbook, I’m always interested in soups others make. Not only family, friends, and neighbors, but also famous cooks like Ina Garten. If I’m home and I’ve been working all day, I’m in front of the tv with my feet up at 3:00 Central Time when Ina makes one of her appearances on Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa. While doing a little background reading for this post, I discovered this on FOOD NETWORK’S “10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Barefoot Contessa”:
She’s never watched herself on TV. “I couldn’t possibly. If I watched a show, I don’t think I’d ever do it again,” she laughs. “Filming is still the most frightening thing I’ve done. It’s just sheer terror. I haven’t gotten used to it yet.”
Of course, it doesn’t matter to me whether or not she watches herself, but I get it. As a longtime singer and choir director, I cannot stand to hear a recording of me singing. In fact, I don’t like performing as a soloist; I’d rather direct. So Ina’s words resonate with me.
Another comment she made was about cooking from recipes; she always cooks from her own books. She doesn’t wing it at all.
“I trust them,” she says. And after all these years, she still prefers a recipe over winging it. “I’m a science person. I measure everything.” Read more here.
That, I don’t get. I absolutely cook by the end of my apron strings nearly always. I dream things up daily despite a huge shelf full of cookbooks. Dave, my husband, says, “That was good. Do you think we’ll ever have it again?!” For instance:
|Here’s my Ovenbaked Vegetable Soup with Poached Egg|
This week, our group of veteran food bloggers is cooking up all Ina “S’s” — Soups, Sides, or Salads. My choice was:
easy tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons
The simplest of soup ingredients (onions, garlic, chicken broth, tomatoes, orzo, cream) make up the bulk of this quick soup and, while the soup (all rights reserved) is part of Ina’s newest book, FOOLPROOF, you can also get the recipe on the Barefoot Contessa site. The most unusual aspect of this soup is its use of saffron, that lovely warm floral seasoning made from the stigma of croci, or crocuses if you will:
CROCUS: a small, spring-flowering plant of the iris family, which grows from a corm and bears bright yellow, purple, or white flowers. (Oxford English Dictionary.)
So: What did I think? It was tasty, tasty……….
Overall, a lovely, basic and inexpensive tomato soup made more filling with the addition of orzo, small rice-like pieces of pasta. The grilled cheese croutons were cute and yummy–a great idea and a fun addition. You just make a grilled cheese and cut it into 1-inch segments.
I’ll admit I had to change a few things in the soup AND the croutons for personal reasons…
|CROUTONS: Ina’s white bread, 2 T butter, and 4 ounces of cheese were changed to whole wheat, 1 teaspoon butter, and one thin slice of cheese so that I could eat it without going off program.|
- The fragrant saffron was lost on me as the tomatoes were almost overwhelming in their sweetness. (At least mine were. ) Making it another time, I would increase the amount of saffron. Ina’s “large pinch,” might become two.
- I cut the salt in the interest of health, but also in the interest of taste– from one tablespoon to one and a half teaspoons. Salt, like sugar, cuts acidity; acidity, however wasn’t the problem.
- I included the entire amount of black pepper, one teaspoon, but pretty much wished I’d put in a pinch of crushed red pepper despite the warm mouth buzz left when dinner was done. Of course, I’m addicted to crushed red pepper.
|Saffron threads from Penzey’s|
- I skipped the heavy cream and instead topped my soup with a little spoonful of plain Greek yogurt as I’m watching my caloric intake. (I’m on Weight Watchers.) Just to see, however, I did try one single spoonful with the cream to see if it dulled the sweetness of the tomatoes. No. Not so much. It was creamy and luscious, of course! I think I’d do without if I had to choose.
- One last thing: as the soup sat, the orzo grew AND GREW (as pasta will do in soup) and, by the time it cooled enough for me to refrigerate it, the pasta was dominant. Pretty much appeared to be pasta and sauce in the pot. There are two possibilities: one, use a small orzo (there are different sizes) or use less.
What’s cool about this is you have pretty much a little pot of sweet marinara with tiny pasta--and it’s good. And it’s not nearly as caloric as a big plate of spaghetti, yet you still get the whole deal taste-wise. This soup is also darned quick. You could be eating in forty minutes total, including grilling the sandwiches. Family-friendly, leftovers would make great lunches at work or school. A little hot sauce and your big-eater guy friend would be swooning. Is it foolproof? I’d say so. Yes, I’d agree; she’s definitely got that down. Just watch the salt.
Would you like it? Yes, I’m sure you would. Is it a recipe you can trust? It says you can on the front cover of the book. Definitely. Trust it. But make it your own.
What else might you do?
You might brown up a couple of links of top-flight Italian sausage (slice it) and either use it for a “crouton” instead of the grilled cheese or add it to the sandwich. If you’d like something green (imagine), chop up a half cup each of fresh basil and spinach and stir in for the last minute or two (having left out the saffron.) You would definitely have a good glass of zin or reserve Chianti along side. You’d probably skip dessert. I think you’d be full.
stop in and see what our fine writers are cooking up on the first Friday of each month:
- Ansh @ Spice Roots (Ansh will return in June)
- Barbara @ Moveable Feasts
- Bhavna @ Just a Girl From AAmchi Mumbai
- Chaya @ Bizzy Bakes
- Linda, @ Tumbleweed Contessa (Beginning in June)
- Linda @ There and Back Again (beginning in June)
- Martha @ Simple Nourished Living
- Minnie @ The Lady 8 Home
- Mireya @ My Healthy Eating Habits
- Nancy @ My Picadillo
- Ria @ Ria’s Collection (beginning in June)
- Rocky Mountain Woman @ Rocky Mountain Woman
- Veronica@ My Catholic Kitchen
Are you a food blogger? Want to join in one time a month? Email Alyce @ firstname.lastname@example.org or link in to join us once in a while (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina! We’d love to have you.
If you like this, you might like
my TOMATO SOUP WITH FRIED CHEESE…
or my Tomato Soup Faster Then You Can Say Grilled Cheese
… … … … … … … … … … …
Fight Hunger Due to Sequester Cuts–Get Involved:
I follow a fine blog called Leave It Where Jesus Flang It, written by the Rev. Margaret Watson, pastor for nine congregations on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Sequester cuts have left her elderly, handicapped, and grandparents (who are raising children) in a very troubling situation, unable to pay bills or buy food. Children are at risk, as well. If you click on the blog link, you’ll see the letter she’s written her congressional representatives. If you’d like to help ease this situation, read the blog and write your own representatives or leave a comment asking how you might help directly. Donations, of course, are always accepted by the mission.
Here are some excerpts from Margaret’s letter:
I cannot afford to feed all the people who come to my door asking for help. I have emptied my own freezer, my own cupboard in order to help these desperate folks.
In the last six months, I have done 40 funerals –six infants, two teen suicides, and many, many folks under the age 40.
Don’t punish the children and the elderly and the poor and the disabled by cutting the programs that at least keep them alive at poverty levels.
I can only say I am shocked and depressed by my own government. Do better than this. The people you are supposed to serve deserve better.